The Christian Rummage Sale.

Author Phyllis Tickle says that every 500 years of so, Christianity has a rummage sale.  It empties its closets of the old and restocks.  That is happening now, though the transition is not complete, she says.

She says going from where the faith is now to where is will land is as big a change as what took place in the Martin Luther rummage sale.  That is, Luther broke from the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church to establish Protestantism.  The clean out of today’s Protestant church will be just as large, she says.

She cites three general changes in Protestantism.  One is the breakdown in certainty.  We can see that coming in the changes from rigid definitions of “sins”, like homosexuality to more tolerance.

Another is the erosion of authority being replaced by individualism.  I have always said the cause of this change is access to information from the Internet.

A third is the falling away of biblical inerrancy.  As Tickle sums the influence of the emerging church, dogmatic orthodoxy and claim to absolute truth will melt before a loving communion with uncertainty.

These changes are not being driven from above by authorities, but from those in the pews.  I’ve long said what is preached from the pulpit results from what folks are thinking in the pews, not the other way around.

Sending old ideas from Christianity down the road is a wonderful thing.  We can celebrate a religion that does not claim to know it all.

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7 Responses

  1. entech

    Sending old ideas from Christianity down the road is a wonderful thing. We can celebrate a religion that does not claim to know it all.
    I agree with the first sentence, it has been happening for the life of the church, took nearly five hundred years to reach an agreement and get rid of all the other varieties (almost rid of).
    As for the second sentence, well, as they become established then you will find that they know it all, they are the only true religion. Actually even before that, as part of the reasoning given for the change and the establishment of the new order is that the others are wrong, and the emerging (pun intended) group is actually a correction of past errors.

  2. I joined a church that was part of this “emerging” movement, except it was not evangelical and was not aware of other similar churches. I eventually realized they are really not that different from most other mainline churches. The local church was not bothered too much that I’m now atheist, but there will never be a place for me in the hierarchy. I have continued to look for leaders in this movement and they just aren’t there, at least they aren’t leading anyone anywhere, just a slightly different brand to the same old story. I don’t doubt we will see less fundamentalism in the future, but some big denominations are going to have to go bankrupt before any real change happens.

    1. John W 4:13 “some big denominations are going to have to go bankrupt before any real change happens.”
      Could be, but I think we will see shifting theology and denominations merging as well.

  3. Ed

    No need to “Tickle” readers to get them to find humor in another extremist’s view of religion. Was this lady the palm reader at the RRV fair last July?

    Erosion of authority and more tolerance……Hey that sounds like just the liberal’s recipe to solve our nation’s unemployment too! Oh ….and also the crime infesting the western part of ND as well! Religion, economy, crime….the logic of this big rummage sale “pew movement” can be applied to cure a lot of what ails our nation.

    1. Ed 5:25 Thanks for the comment. Your distaste for the rummage sale that is going on probably matches what the Catholic Church said during the previous one, the autioneer being Martin Luther.

  4. Margaret Walsh

    Please forgive me, the link and comment from the article is a bit off topic. However Denis Diderot, an important writer/philosopher from the Enlightenment period and a true Freethinker suffered greatly at the hands of the church and society in general. I think he would approve of your topic the Christian Rummage Sale! Never thought of the 500 year reboot as a rummage sale for Christianity but I think your bang on Jon.

    Like many Enlightenment writers, Diderot preached the right of the individual to determine the course of his or her life. But the type of liberty that underpins Diderot’s body of work differs markedly from today’s hackneyed understanding of freedom. His message was of intellectual emancipation from received authorities — be they religious, political or societal — and always in the interest of the common good. More so than the deists Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot embodied the most progressive wing of Enlightenment thought, a position that stemmed from his belief that skepticism in all matters was “the first step toward truth.” He was, in fact, the precise type of secular Enlightenment thinker that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have attempted to write out of their high school curriculum.

    1. entech

      It was the Encyclopédie that prompted English industrialists to learn French, his friend David Hume was also a skeptic and also denied recognition because of it.

      I saw a program about the curriculum arguments in Texas on Youtube ( I am a foreigner so no personal opinion or comments) one of the viewers comments said something about America and Mexico fighting a war over Texas, they said Mexico won and America had to keep it

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